Patent or utility model?
Inventions can be protected in the Republic of Estonia with both a patent and an utility model. In order to decide which of the methods of protection is more appropriate to you, the similarities and differences between them should be made clear. A summary of the most important features of patents and utility models is shown in the table below. Below the table, it is explained more precisely what the terms in it mean.
|Grounds for legal protection
|Protected objects||equipment, process, material||equipment, process, material (except biotechnolocial inventions)|
|Protecting a complex invention||yes||no|
|Procedure||based on examination||based on registration|
|Term of validity||up to 20 years||up to 10 years|
Grounds for legal protection
Novelty – both the patent and the utility model must be new. Novelty means global novelty. This means that if, somewhere in the world, an identical object has previously become public, the invention is no longer new.
Inventive step – this is assessed differently for the patent and the utility model. Novelty is always assessed first in the case of invention. If it turns out that the invention is new, or an identical object cannot be found, then the next step will be to assess the level of inventive step.
The patent has an inventive step if it does not result directly from the state of the art for an expert of the field.
The utility model, however, has an inventive step when, due to the difference in the state of the art, the use of the invention reveals a useful technical characteristic or other useful characteristic.
Industrial applicability – an object has an industrial applicability when it can be produced or used in economy.
Protection of a complex invention
Both the patent and the utility model can protect an equipment, process and material. However, the difference is that, in the case of a patent, in one application protection can be applied for a number of objects of the invention which are linked to a single inventive idea. This means that if your invention is, for example, a new substance, then you can also protect the method for manufacturing that substance within the same application. However, in the case of an utility model, two different applications should be filed for this example, one for the substance and the other for the method. This means that only one object can be presented in one utility model registration application.
There are significant differences in the processing of applications for patents and useful models.
The patent application procedure is examination-based. This means that when a patent application is filed, preliminary examination begins first. The purpose of this phase is to ensure that the application complies with the formal and substantive requirements. A state of the art search will also be carried out at the same time. During this, the examiner looks for the same and similar solutions previously published in the world and assesses the protectability of the invention (novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability). The results are presented in a search report and are sent to the applicant for consulting. Based on search report, it is possible to make changes to the application.
If 18 months have elapsed since the filing of the patent application, it will be published. This will also end the phase of the preliminary procedure and the examination process begins. A final assessment to the protectability of the invention will be given in the course of the examination. In case of a positive assessment, the patent is issued.
There will be no examination in processing the application for registration of a utility model. This means that only a verification of compliance with the formal and substantive requirements will be carried out when the application is filed. A state of the art search will also be carried out, the results of which are sent to the applicant and can be used to make changes to the application. The search report is only informative for the applicant. Compliance with the criteria for novelty and inventive step shall be the responsibility of the applicant himself.
A utility model will be registered and published when it meets the formal and substantive requirements.
A patent and a utility model can be contested in the board of appeal and in court.
Period of validity and costs
The patent is valid for up to 20 years. The exception is medicinal and plant protection products for which additional protection can be requested. In order to maintain the patent, a fee of validity must be paid for each year. The exact amounts involved in applying for and maintaining the patent can be seen on Patent fees page.
The utility model is valid for up to 10 years, the 4-year period first obtained can be extended for the first time by 4 years and then for further 2 years, in both cases a state fee is due. The exact amounts can be seen on Utility model fees page.